I’m pretty sure that parents back in the day loved their kids just as much as we love our kids now. But you’d never know it judging by the things that pre-21st Century parents gave their children. Whether it’s narcotic teething syrup or two-story invitations to head injuries masquerading as playground equipment, safety has come a long way. 20th Century children will never appreciate how narrowly they escaped an early grave.


20 Vintage Kiddie Items That Are Heart-Stoppingly Dangerous for Kids

#1: The Original Crack Babies

You know what’s not a good idea? Giving your teething infant cocaine to soothe their aching gums. True, in the early 20th Century cocaine wasn’t illegal and the effects of the drug weren’t really understood. But I think when the baby sat straight up, energized, and ready to party, most moms probably tossed the “medicine,” realizing that it was doing more harm than good.

#2: It’s All Fun and Games…Nope. That’s a Mass Casualty Waiting to Happen.

Back in the 1900s, playgrounds for children were nothing like the brightly painted temples to safe play we have today. Instead, they looked more like training equipment for Navy Seals. But even the Navy would have placed spotters. Yikes!

#3: It’s Safer If All the Kids Do It All At Once

This early 1900s slide may not be dangerous in and of itself. (Who am I kidding? That’s got to be at least 15 feet up, right? And the slide has no sides to keep you from hurdling straight off the edge. Shudder!) But when you’ve got 20 kids pushing and pulling and not paying any attention as they try and make their way up to the top, someone is gonna get hurt.

#4: Build Your Own Radioactive Science Project

This educational toy from the 1950s came with samples of ore that contained both uranium and radium as components to conduct “atomic energy experiments.” I imagine the first experiment was “How to Make Your Whole Family Glow in the Dark.”


#5: But Is It Installed Correctly?

Today’s infant seats are probably more secure than the seats that took the astronauts to the moon. But back in the 50s and 60s, car seats were more about keeping the baby from crawling under the seat, rather than protecting him from impact in a collision.

#6: Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Morphine Syrup

Opiates have been used as pain killers for centuries. But giving morphine to a teething or fussy infant is an especially tragic idea.

#7: Your Great Grandma’s Easy Bake Oven Was No Joke

If you buy a child a toy oven today, it cooks with a low wattage light bulb. But in the 1930s you could buy this electric stove/oven for your little girl that really got hot. Like 600 degrees hot. Ouch.

#8: Sun on a Hot Tin Slide

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, then you know all about these burn machines dressed up as children’s play equipment. This slide looks fun and harmless, but when your shorts-clad bum made contact with the summer sun-heated metal, you were lucky to escape without a mark.


#9: Let’s Give the Kiddos Missiles with Sharp Skin-piercing Spikes

All I can say is that whoever designed the toy must not have had children. Because if the engineer had kids, he would have known that the first thing kids would do is throw them at each other. It’s no wonder that Hasbro’s Javelin Darts set was a public relations nightmare from the beginning.

#10: A Cap Gun on Your Belt, What Could Go Wrong There?

I get that boys like to play with guns. If you give ’em a barbie doll, they’ll turn it into a gun. But putting a cap gun on a belt buckle and telling kids to fire it by pushing out with their tummies? What kind of a genius thinks that’s gonna be safe?

#11: The Seats Go All the Way Back

We have to admit that being able to recline your car seat to a fully prone position during a long car trip would be super nice. Super dangerous, but super nice.

#12: Let’s Give the Boys a Metal Melting Furnace for Christmas

Brought to you by the same company that brought you the “radioactivity in a box” science experiment kit, comes this wildly dangerous early entry into STEM based toys. This “Kasting” kit encouraged children to melt lead and then pour the molten metal into molds to make cast iron figurines. The kid on the box looks about 10, but he’s wearing a tie. So maybe he’s mature for his age.